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The Role of individuals in institutional change: when individuals act as institutional entrepreneurs

Author: Battilana, Julie INSEAD Area: Organisational BehaviourPublisher: Fontainebleau : INSEAD, 2006.Language: EnglishDescription: 201 p. ; 30 cm.Type of document: INSEAD ThesisThesis Note: For the degree of Ph.D. in management, INSEAD, May 2006Bibliography/Index: Includes bibliographical referencesAbstract: While early neo-institutional studies did not explicitly tackle the issue of agency, more recent studies about institutional entrepreneurship have brought it to the forefront. Institutional entrepreneurship has been presented as a promising way to account for institutional change. However, this notion faces a paradox insofar as there seems to be a contradiction between the agency of institutional entrepreneurs and institutional determinism. How can organizations or individuals innovate, if their beliefs and actions are all determined by the very institutional environment that they wish to change? To overcome this paradox, it is necessary to explain under what conditions actors are enabled to act as institutional entrepreneurs. Some neo-institutional theorists have already addressed this issue. They have highlighted organizational-level and organizational field-level enabling conditions for institutional entrepreneurship. In this dissertation, I aim to complement their work by showing that there are also individual-level enabling conditions for institutional entrepreneurship. By doing so, I take into account the individual level of analysis that neo-institutional theorists often tend to neglect. More specifically, I concentrate on the analysis of one individual-level enabling condition, that is, individuals' social position. I develop a model that highlights the impact that individuals' social position has on the likelihood for them to act as institutional entrepreneurs. I test this model with data from ninety-three change projects that were conducted by ninety-three clinical managers from the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom between 2002 and 2004. This research contributes to overcoming the paradox of embedded agency that is inherent in neo-institutional theory and thereby to setting up micro-foundations for the development of a theory of action within its frame. It also has some important managerial implications insofar as it highlights the profile in terms of social position of the individuals who are more likely to act as institutional entrepreneurs. List(s) this item appears in: Ph.D. Thesis
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For the degree of Ph.D. in management, INSEAD, May 2006

Includes bibliographical references

While early neo-institutional studies did not explicitly tackle the issue of agency, more recent studies about institutional entrepreneurship have brought it to the forefront. Institutional entrepreneurship has been presented as a promising way to account for institutional change. However, this notion faces a paradox insofar as there seems to be a contradiction between the agency of institutional entrepreneurs and institutional determinism. How can organizations or individuals innovate, if their beliefs and actions are all determined by the very institutional environment that they wish to change? To overcome this paradox, it is necessary to explain under what conditions actors are enabled to act as institutional entrepreneurs.
Some neo-institutional theorists have already addressed this issue. They have highlighted organizational-level and organizational field-level enabling conditions for institutional entrepreneurship. In this dissertation, I aim to complement their work by showing that there are also individual-level enabling conditions for institutional entrepreneurship. By doing so, I take into account the individual level of analysis that neo-institutional theorists often tend to neglect. More specifically, I concentrate on the analysis of one individual-level enabling condition, that is, individuals' social position. I develop a model that highlights the impact that individuals' social position has on the likelihood for them to act as institutional entrepreneurs. I test this model with data from ninety-three change projects that were conducted by ninety-three clinical managers from the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom between 2002 and 2004.
This research contributes to overcoming the paradox of embedded agency that is inherent in neo-institutional theory and thereby to setting up micro-foundations for the development of a theory of action within its frame. It also has some important managerial implications insofar as it highlights the profile in terms of social position of the individuals who are more likely to act as institutional entrepreneurs.

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